Gail and Jan Hood are the proud owners of a 1955 Chevy Bel Air two-door hardtop.
In 1973, Gail purchased the vehicle from his uncle for $500 with several options for motor and transmission.
“I wanted the hopped-up 283 and the four speed, but Dad chose the stock 283 and three speed,” recalls Hood, which was probably a good idea for a 17-year-old.
After high school, Hood got his four speed and the 327 that is still in it today.
The car was stored in Hood’s parents’ corn crib in 1983, but in 2000 he brought it out, cleaned it up and fitted it with new tires and wheels. After a short time, however, it was put back in storage in a cousin’s machine shed.
When the idea of restoring the Bel Air came up again, so did the subject of a color change. Torch red and black and burnt orange were tossed around before Hood saw a picture of a ’55 with a two-tone paint scheme that he liked.
The car was Hugger orange when purchased, then painted blue. It was decided that it would be black on top and Corvette atomic orange on the lower half.
The Hoods knew Joe Roush of Roush Restorations was a talented painter even as a teenager. The job was offered to him years before it actually began, although he thought it was too big of a project at the time.
Finally in 2008, Roush was ready to tackle the job with some help from Jared Riis, a longtime friend and fellow bodyman. The two worked long and hard to make the car as close to perfect as it could be. The results of their hard work paid off, and the finished project surpassed Gail and Jan’s expectations. Now the only thing left to do was drive it.
Even after winning the “Mayor’s Choice” award at the Covered Bridge Festival Car Show, the Hoods agree they are not car show people; they just enjoy driving their car. They’ve driven the car a lot since it was finished, traveling to Minnesota and St. Joe, Mo., as well as a memorial poker run for Jan’s brother.
There are many good memories that go along with the car, from buying it with his dad’s input, to road tripping with friends.